In calendar year 2015, approximately $6 billion in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants is likely to be available for clean energy projects. DOE will invest this sum in projects big and small undertaken by enterprises ranging from Fortune 100 companies to venture-capital-financed startups. The grants typically provide 50 to 80 percent of project costs and do not require recipients to give up any intellectual property.

Federal funding for fiscal year 2015 (FY15) is flowing now that Congress has passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (commonly referred to as the CR Omnibus). At the same time, the administration is preparing its budget request for fiscal year 2016 (FY16), which is expected to be released in February 2015 for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2015. The combined funding for these two fiscal years represents approximately $6 billion for DOE’s clean energy programs, which include renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and vehicles, bioenergy, natural gas, carbon capture technologies, transmission and distribution upgrades, and many others.

Funding for clean energy projects is defined broadly and comes from four DOE offices:

  • Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
  • Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE)
  • Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)

These offices are expected to make almost $3 billion available in FY15.

In preparation for the FY16 budget request, DOE program managers are working with industry representatives to update programmatic priorities and multiyear spending plans and also writing solicitations. The first and second quarters of 2015 present a prime opportunity for companies to speak with DOE and national laboratory managers to establish priority projects for the next 12 to 36 months. Based on past years, it is expected that the administration’s FY16 budget request for these four offices will likely exceed $3.4 billion.

Thompson Hine LLP is pleased to announce it is teaming with Liebman & Associates (L&A) (www.liebman-associates.com), a Washington, D.C.-based clean energy technology firm, to help companies identify in a timely manner and pursue these opportunities. For the past 15 years, L&A has been exclusively dedicated to helping its clients secure partnerships with DOE and financial grants supporting clean energy projects. With L&A’s support, its clients have won scores of competitive awards, receiving nearly $1 billion from DOE. Most of DOE’s awards are in the $1 million to $10 million range, but L&A has helped clients secure awards as large as $200 million. DOE grants typically provide 50 to 80 percent of project costs – dramatically impacting project return on investment (ROI). Securing a DOE grant is often the difference between a good idea and a project realized.

Thompson Hine has considerable experience with renewable energy power projects encompassing solar, biomass, biofuels, geothermal, municipal waste, and onshore and offshore wind technologies. We assist clients in every aspect and each phase of renewable energy project development, including obtaining licenses and permits; structuring ownership relationships; advising on tax planning and tax credit structuring; securing grants; drafting power purchase, sales and interconnection agreements; and facilitating utility and asset privatizations. Cutting-edge leaders in the use of land, air and water seek our counsel on matters including reduction and avoidance of greenhouse gases, hazardous emissions and waste materials. We assist with green initiatives, including pollution control equipment, energy efficiency and electricity management systems, and clean technologies. We also assist with supply/supplier procurement contracts and asset management agreements, and with Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) and energy market transactions covering capacity, energy transmission and ancillary services, FTRs and ARRs.

L&A has intimate knowledge of the DOE funding process and its programs. Prior to establishing L&A, Murray Liebman worked in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which controls about two-thirds of DOE’s clean energy portfolio (i.e., about $2 billion of the annual budget). L&A works with program managers long before solicitations and funding opportunities are released so that, where appropriate and possible, its clients’ priorities are well represented in DOE’s Research Development Demonstration & Deployment (RDD&D) roadmaps. Additionally, L&A often facilitates partnerships with national laboratories to de-risk projects and provide specialized analytic and technical expertise.

Thompson Hine and L&A offer comprehensive services including:

  • Identifying opportunities for funding and preparing targeted client proposals that align with specific DOE office priorities and corporate objectives
  • Communicating with DOE managers as program guidelines are developed and priorities finalized for incorporation into DOE funding opportunities
  • Designing cost-share structures, regulatory compliance strategies and risk management solutions toward securing DOE technical assistance and financial grants
  • Negotiating funding contracts, including key provisions relating to protection of intellectual property rights
  • Developing the wide range of supporting project documents in compliance with DOE requirements to help good ideas and proposed projects become reality

Now that FY15 is officially under way, DOE program managers are actively consulting with industry stakeholders to identify key priorities and projects. DOE is also developing its solicitations, or funding opportunities, throughout the first and second quarters of 2015. Companies looking to reduce out-of-pocket costs by 50 to 80 percent for their clean energy (broadly defined) projects should consider pursuing technical support and financial investment from DOE, which can have a significant impact on a project’s ROI.